Network slicing, a new way of delivering customised connectivity experiences, will be made possible by the introduction of 5G Standalone (5G SA). But what is it and why do we need it?
So what is network slicing then?
Network slicing is a new way of managing the internet and call traffic that telecoms networks carry. It enables companies like Vodafone to create several different virtual networks on the same physical equipment. Most importantly, these virtual networks are isolated from each other, which means one cannot impact the performance of another.
Why do we need it?
Today, all of Vodafone’s internet traffic is carried across the same physical network. This has worked to date, but as the amount of data we generate each year increases (4G data alone is growing about 40% a year) and more specialist services emerge, this approach will be less effective. There could be a risk of congestion, meaning applications on your smartphone become much less responsive or don’t work as well.
How will it work in practice?
You could have a slice of the network which is reserved for the public internet (this would connect all our smartphones), as well as separate slices for more specialist applications, such as virtual reality, or communications channels for emergency services. These specialist channels would have to be configured in a different way to suit the applications, which is why network slicing is so important.
Does this mean I’ll get slower internet on my smartphone?
Not at all, the performance will actually be better.
Network slicing can only be done on a new generation of networks called 5G Standalone (5G SA). 5G SA operates on upgraded equipment and software. Compared to today’s 4G and 5G (also known as 5G Non-standalone), it is much more efficient.